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Microsoft Businesses Apple

Microsoft Slugs Mac Users With Vista Tax 661

An anonymous reader writes "Mac users wanting to run Vista on their Macintosh, alongside Mac OS X programs, will have to buy an expensive version of Vista if they want to legally install it on their systems. The end-user license agreement for the cheaper versions of Vista (Home Basic and Home Premium) explicitly forbids the use of those versions on virtual machines (i.e., Macs pretending to be PCs)." Update: 02/08 17:50 GMT by KD : A number of readers have pointed out that the Vista EULA does not forbid installing it via Apple's Bootcamp; that is, the "tax" only applies to running Vista under virtualization.
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Microsoft Slugs Mac Users With Vista Tax

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  • by Beached ( 52204 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:22PM (#17930012) Homepage
    I thought this battle over Mac PPC hardware being light years faster than Intel hardware was over when Mac started using Intel. Now they can run Vista in a virtual machine when most people would be happy to be able to run in on a real machine without it chugging.

    We should now all go out and buy a Mac.

    Seriously, they do mac some pretty cool hardware, buy one. you won't regret it.
  • by VGPowerlord ( 621254 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:43PM (#17930206)
    I was all set to mod you up until you said

    And as long as I buy my hardware from Apple, I'm not going to be forced to buy the OEM copy included with a new PC.
    Yes, you don't get an OEM copy of Windows. Instead, you're forced to pay for an OEM copy of OSX included as part of the system's price, much like Windows is included as part of the system price of, say, a Dell.
  • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @12:08AM (#17930412) Journal
    You can't legally use MSDN versions for "production" use. MSDN is "cheap" because it is for development purposes.

    The point is not that the "cheaper" versions of Vista won't work in a virtual machine, it is that it is contrary to the license terms.

    If you are going to violate a license agreement, it is cheaper to violate something cheaper than MSDN.

  • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @12:15AM (#17930470)
    Apple moves into VM?

    Maybe, but in a very sluggish and almost useless way.

    Call me when I can run OSX on a VM under OSX. Oh and in such a way as its supported both by Apple and the vendor of the VM system.

    Tell me that I'm wrong and that Apple supports running OSX in a VM, go on I'd like that. A lot.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @12:35AM (#17930598) Homepage Journal
    Subscribers actually see these stories early.. and there's a line on them that says "if you see anything obviously wrong with this article, email ..." and there's a link. About 2 times out of the 8 times I've emailed something has happened that appears to be in response to my email. "dupe" seems to get them jumping. For this article I emailed "this doesn't affect bootcamp" but I was ignored.
  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @12:39AM (#17930632)
    IANAL but from what I have read, all the license clause says is that if you want to run vista home in a virtual machine, you need one license for each copy of vista home you are running (whereas vista pro lets you use a copy in a VM even if its already being used on the real machine too).

    Or am I reading it wrong and Vista Home prevents running it in a VM even when you aren't using that same licensed copy of Vista Home elsewhere (e.g, if its running inside a VMWare image hosted on a linux machine)?
  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:56AM (#17931154)
    Yes, this article is crap, but for what it's worth, the Vista Home Basic and Home Premium license is intended to prohibit use in any kind of virtual machine environment. I had the same line of reasoning you did. Vista Ultimate does come with two licenses, but Home Basic and Home Premium really do intend (apparently) to prohibit use in virtualization. This has been covered repeatedly, and confirmed by Microsoft representatives.


    On Oct 23, 2006, at 8:23 AM, Paul Thurrott wrote:

    Microsoft told me that the retail EULA forbids the installation of Windows Vista Home Basic or Home Premium in virtual machines. They said that if developers wanted to do this, they should get an MSDN subscription, which has a different license allowing such an install. All that said, there's nothing technical from preventing users from installing any Vista version in a virtual machine.


    -----Original Message-----
    From: Dave Schroeder []
    Sent: Monday, October 23, 2006 9:15 AM
    Subject: Row over Vista virtualization much ado about nothing?


    In reading about Vista virtualization, it occurred to me that all
    this may be a result of the incorrect interpretation of the EULA:

    Microsoft's Vista EULA says:

    software installed[1] on the licensed device[2] within a virtual (or
    otherwise emulated) hardware system."

    This means you can't use the *same* installation of Vista Home inside
    a virtualization technology on the "licensed device".

    This DOES NOT mean you can't use it by itself in a virtualization
    product on any platform. If that instance of Vista is not installed
    anywhere else, there is no preexisting "licensed device".

    The reason this is included in the EULA is because Vista Business and
    Ultimate actually include additional licenses specifically so the
    same license can be used to also run in a virtualization environment
    on the same device where Vista is already installed.

    The higher end versions of Vista actually include more in terms of
    virtualization licensing than any other commercial OS.

    In any case, by my reading, this means all versions of Vista can
    still be legally used standalone in a virtualized environment, such
    as Parallels or VMWare.

    [1] This means "the software" (i.e., Vista Home Basic or Premium) is
    already installed on a licensed device.

    [2] The "licensed device" is the device that Vista Home is already
    installed on, and that license may not be reused to also install it
    in a virtualization environment, which you CAN do with Vista Business
    and Ultimate, because Microsoft includes additional licenses
    specifically for virtualization use, which is why there are all these
    specifics about virtualization use on the lower end Vista versions in
    the EULA in the first place.

  • by Darby ( 84953 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:33AM (#17931384)
    From what I've seen, this does not just apply to multiple installations. You really are not allowed to install a basic version on a VM, even if you buy a unique copy and only use it for that purpose.

    Yes, you really are allowed to do damn near anything you want to with it. You bought it, it's your property. You can't make copies for other people due to copyright law, but if you want to install it in a virtual machine running on your toaster then knock yourself out.

    There is not one god damned thing in the world that allows them to dictate how you choose to use your property.

    Pretending that they have rights that they do not and treating this nonsense in their meaningless EULA as if it were even sane is just fucking retarded.

    Run it anywhere you damn well please. It is your right if you paid for it.

  • by VertigoAce ( 257771 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:38AM (#17931398)

    Additionally, the last time I checked the wording of the EULA could quite easily be interpreted to allow a Vista VM running under another OS (just not a re-use of your existing Vista license to run a VM under a "native" install).

    I'd be curious to hear an official Microsoft response on this. My reading of it agrees with yours that it seems to be talking about the license not applying to a VM running on the licensed device.

    Consider the home license: "You may not use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual ... hardware system." It looks to me like they don't want you to reuse the existing installation (and license) in a virtual system. I could probably argue either reading for the home license.

    The Business/Ultimate license is what made me begin questioning the normal Slashdot interpretation: "You may use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual ... hardware system on the licensed device." Notice that this version says that the virtual hardware system is running on the licensed device. This implies that this instance of the EULA applies to the host system, but the guest system is allowed to use the licensed software.

    IANAL, but my interpretation is that the intent of this clause is to allow the business versions of the client to run in a sandbox mode with multiple instances of the OS covered by a single instance of the license. I suspect that the next server OS utilizes virtual machines as a security feature and the Vista license includes this clause so developers can test a single user version on their workstations. Of course, I could be completely wrong, but if so, why the destinction between "licensed device" and "virtual hardware system" instead of indicating that the (un)licensed device is the virtual hardware system?
  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nicolas.kassis ( 875270 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:43AM (#17931418)
    And a Service Pack does not come with many added features ? I mean compare Windows XP SP1 and SP2 and you will see a major difference.
  • by Darby ( 84953 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @03:47AM (#17931686)
    That would seem like the logical thing but in today's world you didn't buy it and it's not your property. You have simply paid MS for the rights to use their intellectual property under the terms they dictate.

    I have yet to hear of a single court case lending any validity to that viewpoint.
    Were I to buy one of their products, I'd head down to the computer store, pay Microcenter for a product in a box and I would own it. Whatever nonsense they want to write inside the box is meaningless.
    There is nothing that gives them any right to say shit about what I do with it (within copyright law). They weren't even part of the transaction.
  • by bheer ( 633842 ) <> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @05:09AM (#17932058)
    > I think comparisons with car manufacturers should be eschewed until the point in time when you can sue Microsoft for damages you incur while using their products.

    It's not just cars, *anything* can be sold by charging more for extra 'features'. That applies to salt and breakfast cereal to 747s. It's called product differentiation and it's pretty much Economics 101. How does Microsoft become 'monopolistic' by charging more for certain editions -- they're merely trying to maximize their revenue -- when every other company does the same? It's not like they're hiding the cheaper editions. Hell, given that most home users will buy Vista from their OEMs, they'll probably use Vista Home Premium quite contentedly anyway.

  • by grahamm ( 8844 ) <> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @07:15AM (#17932476) Homepage
    I think that it is about time that governments passed laws stipulated that licences only be allowed to add to your legal rights and not be allowed to restrict actions which would be allowed in the absence of the licence.
  • by EvanED ( 569694 ) <evaned@gmail. c o m> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @10:56AM (#17934070)
    VMware and VirtualPC are detectable because pre-hardware virtualization x86 was too slow to virtualize completely. The problem comes up because the x86 has security-sensitive but non-privileged instructions. The classic example is SIDT. This instruction stores the contents of the interrupt descriptor register (that gives the processor the address of the interrupt service routine to run when an interrupt arrives) into a given location in memory; it can be used in user mode. However, an OS needs to be able to issue the LIDT instruction that sets the IDT so that it points to its ISR. Now, when running in a VM, the hypervisor needs to somehow trap (at least conceptually) when the guest OS issues the LIDT instruction, because the IDT needs to point to the hypervisor's ISR instead of the guest OS's. Instead, the hypervisor records what the guest OS tried to set it to, and emulates calls to in when interrupts arrive in the future. But now the IDT contents are different what the OS thinks they should be -- so issuing the LIDT in kernel space then the SIDT instruction (probably in either kernel or user space, but to be safe in user space) and comparing if the IDT is what the OS thinks it should be indicates if you're in a VMWare- or VirtualPC-style VM. (If they differ, you're in a VM.)

    Now, what would be required to change this? VMWare accomplishes virtualization by binary rewriting: they examine the stream of instructions that are about to execute, and change it so that they will operate appropriately. Instructions that change the priviledged state of the machine (such as LIDT) are essentially translated into system calls, because the guest OS is now running in user space instead of kernel space. However, they only do this binary translation for the kernel. They don't do it for any user applications that run. The reason is that it's somewhat slow; it's why running a system in VMWare is slower than running it on the bare metal. Imagine if they also had to do binary translation on user space processes. But that's exactly what they would have to do if they wanted to protect against a user application issuing a SIDT instruction to read the privileged state.

    So it's not so much that it's detectable on purpose as it is they decided (pretty much completely rightly) that the performance hit that would be required to protect aginst this would be far, far, FAR worse than allowing detectability.

    It's for this reason that I don't think there is ANY x86 virtualization program that both works on pre-VT/Pacifica hardware (that avoids this issue) and is undetectable. (I bet that even Xen with a paravirtualized Linux could be detected via this method.) The closest you get is Bochs, but that's complete emulation, not virtualization. (Because that's almost what you need if you want to completely virtualize x86 before direct HW support.) In other words, by your definition, there AREN'T any good virtualization software products for year-old x86 chips.

    (Also, another interesting point; VMWare has a paper out that demonstrates that their binary rewriting is actually about an order of magnitude faster than hardware virtualization on some tasks for the first P4s that supported it.)

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"